Top 10 – 1/19/20

The youngest entrepreneur to present at Ignite2020 was 14 year old Chase Morgan. Chase and his family are opening Chase Your Dreams VR, a virtual reality arcade that will be located in downtown Great Falls at 316 Central Ave. Grand opening  is set is Saturday February 1st from 10 AM-9 PM. You can book your time in a virtual reality bay on their website or follow them on Facebook for updates.

GFDA Top 10

Here is our Top 19 for this week celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy, our 426th Top 10!

1) MT Pints opened in West Bank One. See KRTV for details. The Great Falls Tribune posted a great story detailing many of the entrepreneur presentations at Ignite 2020. Great Falls Tourism published a new video touting event and meeting venues, see YouTube. The Downtown Great Falls Association published its 2020 Calendar of Events.

2) Calling all recruiters! GFDA is hosting a Livability Launch Party this Wednesday Jan. 22 at 4:30 PM at The Hub in Great Falls High School. Come down and grab a few copies of Great Falls Livability Magazine, a new tool created with the intention of highlighting Great Falls to potential talent looking to relocate. It’ll be quick and casual – grab a bite to eat, listen to the band, grab a few magazines and you can be on your way. Contact Soren Chargois for more info; or 406-836-0147. See you Wednesday!

3) GFDA’s Board adopted our first Talent Attraction Plan, one of our new initiatives for 2020. The Board also appointed Amy Pennington of Pacific Steel & Recycling to our Loan Committee. We published our Quarter Index 2019Q4. SelectUSA, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, approved our official SelectUSA Investment Summit Spin-off Event that will celebrate foreign direct investment in the Great Falls trade area. Contact Jolene Schalper if you would like to be part of this special event in June; or 406-750-4481.

4) The Golden Triangle is home to many fierce female entrepreneurs, and we want YOU to tell us about them! Nominations for The Fire Within, sponsored by Embark Credit Union are open through January 31st. The process is simple – answer a few questions on the nomination form, and click submit. Then save the date for the 10th Annual Fire Within on Thursday, March 26th.

5) Downtown Great Falls will soon have two newly constructed homes on 2nd Ave North. Andreas Geranios, a young entrepreneur from Great Falls, has received a variance from the City Board of Adjustments to build two new residences downtown. We are excited to see a young entrepreneur get his start. Congratulations Andreas! See for more.

6) We have two training events on the agenda in the next couple weeks designed to help entrepreneurs start their business or make it easier to get found online. The LaunchPoint: A Pre-Business Workshop is Thursday, January 23rd from 4-5 PM. Space is limited. Please register here. Our next webinar is A Beginner’s Guide to SEO: Five Tips to Get Found Online. Join us live on Thursday, February 6th at 11 AM or register here and we’ll send out the recording.

7) We’ve signed up for two excellent webinar series for 2020 and invite our investors, partners and clients to join us at GFDA’s office to watch them. One series from the Destination Development Association and will be of interest to tourism and retail businesses. Check out the series here. Thank you to the Montana Department of Commerce for providing these to us for free. If you prefer, go to MDOC’s website and register yourself for this series. The second series is offered by the International Economic Development Council. Check out the series here. We’ve put to work some of our investor dollars to register for this series. You will need to join us at the office to participate. The first IEDC webinar, titled Drawn Together: Art and Economic Development, is this Thursday, January 23 from 12:30-2:00 PM. Please let me know if you plan to join us,

8) Met with a visiting retail real estate executive exploring options for commercial redevelopment. We’ve been working with the company to explore strategies. The Great Falls City Planning Advisory Board unanimously approved recommendations to the City Commission to update retail parking requirements which could help make redevelopment more feasible. Store openings across the country will outpace store closings in 2020, according to a CBRE market outlook, but the retail landscape continues to experience rapid changes. The good news — 81% of Gen-Z shoppers prefer to shop in a store. Restaurant sales grew 6.3% in the U.S. in 2018, making up 17% of total retail sales. Health and fitness, movie and entertainment, and services continue to take up more space. In 2009, these non-retail uses comprised 7% of gross leasable area. By 2018 that had grown to 27%. We’re active in the International Council of Shopping Centers and use this network to market the Great Falls trade area.

9) Do you love True Brew‘s coffee, but want a place to sit down and enjoy it? You’ll soon be able to do just that. True Brew is opening a second location on 1801 11th Avenue South. They are hoping to open in May or June; see KRTV. True Brew is celebrating its tenth year in Great Falls and is an example of how brownfield cleanup money can help get a project going. If you want to know more about how True Brew worked with GFDA you can read about it here.

10) We have Brownfield Clean-Up money that we need to put to work! Our low interest Brownfield Loans can be used to clean up hazardous materials including but not limited to lead paint, asbestos, etc. Are you working on a project that could use some clean up? Call Lillian today to discuss eligibility 406.750.1253 or

11) More great local business news. The Hi-Line Climbing Center plans to expand. Purple Gold plans to add a second food truck this summer featuring its signature açaí bowls. Fast Signs opened in Black Eagle. See details on

12) Have you ever thought about opening a new business downtown or creating residential space? The possibilities are endless! We want to hear your ideas and plans. Call or email Christian to discuss your ideas. or (406) 836-0136.

13) Several organizations in the region won tourism grants from the Montana Department of Commerce. Blackfeet Manpower in Browning won $29,166 to develop the Buffalo Calf Interpretive Visitor Center. The Choteau Port Authority won $8,000 for brand development and marketing of the City of Choteau. The City of Shelby won $4,000 for a north entrance welcome sign. And, Timescale Adventures (TMDC) in Bynum won $53,700 to upgrade infrastructure at the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center. Congratulations!

14) GFDA is happy to announce that Rich Gannon, our rural small business coach, has earned his certification from the Association of Accredited Small Business Consultants (AASBC). Rich now joins GFDA business advisors Jason Nitschke and Tyler Menzales as an accredited member of the AASBC.

15) The University of Montana’s Bureau of Business & Economic Research will hold its annual Economic Outlook Seminar in Great Falls on Wednesday, January 29, 8 AM – 1 PM at the Hilton Garden Inn. This year’s focus is Finding Good Workers. The Great Falls event always sells out, so be sure to register here.

16) Wholesale Buyers can register for the Made in Montana Tradeshow, March 13-14 in Helena. The 2020 show will feature 150 Made in Montana producers including more than 40 new exhibitors and a Native American Made in Montana Pavilion.

17) The Montana Department of Commerce (MDOC) is accepting applications for its new Montana Historic Preservation Grant program. Deadline is February 28th. MDOC’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) is offering grants to help businesses pay for translation of marketing materials to boost exports. The program also offered trade show grants and assistance.

18) The Secret Service will present a Great Falls Loss Prevention workshop this Thursday, January 23, 8:30 AM in the Holiday Village Mall in the space across from Christopher Banks.

19) Thanks to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, NorthWestern Energy, for their Advanced Division investment, and Hi-Line Moving Services and the Home Builders Association of Great Falls, for their Community Division investments. When you invest in GFDA, you invest in growing the vision for the Golden Triangle through business retention, attraction, advocacy and expansion, small business enterprise, and, now, talent attraction. We are hungry and eager to hear from you. To discuss investment, contact Teresa Schreiner at 406.781.9499.

We are HUNGRY to Grow the Great Falls regional economy, create higher wage jobs, build our tax base, improve our market competitiveness, and enhance the quality of life and economic opportunity for residents of Great Falls, Cascade County, and the entire 13-county Great Falls trade area.

Brett Doney
President & CEO

Connect with me on LinkedIn to network with the Great Falls region.
Forward the GFDA Top 10 to friends and colleagues. You can join our distribution list HERE or text GFDA to 22828.

“Done is better than perfect.”
Sheryl Sandberg

Cost-Effective Rail-Served Industrial Sites Available

If your company needs a rail-served, BNSF-Certified, shovel-ready site with all municipal services at your door, we have lots available for immediate construction in the Great Falls AgriTech Park. Contact Jolene Schalper at 1.406.750.4481 or

January SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 3.71%; 20-year at 3.641%; 25-year refinance at 3.712% and 20-year refinance at 3.641%; and, 10-year equipment 3.791%. These rates are FIXED for the life of the loan and are inclusive of all fees. If you would like to find out how to get financing for commercial real estate and equipment at potentially lower rates than you’re paying for your home mortgage, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or

Events, Business Training, and Opportunities

Glacier County Extension is offering a Ranch Profitability workshop series Jan. 21 and Feb. 11. See the Shelby Promoter for details.

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center is offering a Business Transition Readiness workshop in Great Falls on February 13 from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Although the focus is on manufacturing companies, any business owner who does not yet have a succession plan will find this workshop to be very valuable. Details and registration here or download flyer. MMEC is also offering an excellent Lean Principles 101 introduction to lean manufacturing in Great Falls on March 26. Download flyer here.

Of our online business planning tool, LivePlan, one said: “LivePlan is Awesome!” The LivePlan tool is helping her streamline her strategy in preparation for presenting to bank partners. We offer LivePlan licenses for free to active clients. Learn more about LivePlan on our website.

All 26 of our recorded monthly business strategy webinars are available online for viewing anytime, click them out here.

The Montana Department of Commerce is accepting applications for it’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grants. This program reimburses for trade show expenses and travel stipends to attend and exhibit at international trade shows. For more information visit the ExportMontana website at

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center offers a great array of workshops and trainings for all sizes of manufacturing companies.

The Montana Department of Commerce’s Film Office is offering powerful new incentives to promote filming and production in Montana. Click here for details.